Never mind Copenhagen, an environmental catastrophe is going on right now – contaminated water is poisoning babies in Gaza
By Victoria Brittain
December 9, 2009
Among all the complex and long-term solutions being sought in Copenhagen for averting environmental catastrophe across the world, there is one place where the catastrophe has already happened, but could be immediately ameliorated with one simple political act.
In Gaza there is now no uncontaminated water; of the 40,000 or so newborn babies, at least half are at immediate risk of nitrate poisoning – incidence of “blue baby syndrome”, methaemoglobinaemia, is exceptionally high; an unprecedented number of people have been exposed to nitrate poisoning over 10 years; in some places the nitrate content in water is 300 times World Health Organisation standards; the agricultural economy is dying from the contamination and salinated water; the underground aquifer is stressed to the point of collapse; and sewage and waste water flows into public spaces and the aquifer.
The blockade of Gaza has gone on for nearly four years, and the vital water and sanitation infrastructure went past creaking to virtual collapse during the three-week assault on the territory almost a year ago.
What would it take to start the two UN sewerage repair projects approved by Israel; a UN water and sanitation project, not yet approved; and two more UN internal sewage networks, not yet approved? Right now just one corner of the blockade could be lifted for these building materials and equipment to enter Gaza, to let water works begin and to give infant lives a chance. Just one telephone call from the Israeli defence ministry could do it – an early Christmas present to the UN staff on the ground who have been ready to act for months and have grown desperate on this front, as on so many others.
Earlier this year, just one question face to face to the Israeli government, from Senator John Kerry after he visited Gaza, allowed pasta into Gaza. Who from Europe or the US will ask the Israeli defence minister the face-to-face question for the blue babies? Sarah Brown, the British prime minister’s wife, would be the perfect candidate – an independent person who has the ear of the powerful, a mother who knows something about grief for babies. And she could be accompanied by Lord Mandelson in case there was any bullying.
The science on all this is unchallenged. Last September a UN report spelled it out in stark detail, including the regional implications for Israel and Egypt if the shared aquifer is not “rested” and alternative water sources found. The United Nations Environment Programme estimated that $1.5bn could be needed over 20 years to restore the aquifer, including the establishment of desalination plants to take the pressure off the underground water supplies.
Gaza’s huge pale sandy beaches used to be society’s playground and reassurance of happiness and normality, with families picnicking, horses exercising, fishermen mending their nets, children swimming and boys exercising in the early morning, but these days they are mainly empty, and not just because it is winter. Between 50m and 60m litres of untreated sewage have flowed into the Mediterranean every day this year since the end of the Israeli invasion in January, the sea smells bad and few fish are available in the three nautical mile area Palestinians are allowed in. This resource seems as ruined as the rubble of Gaza’s parliament and ministries.
A visitor to Gaza could miss this underground disaster, seeing what the surreal economy of the tunnels from Egypt has brought in: a chic new coffee house, with new furniture and prints on the wall, which would not be out of place in Piccadilly, fish from Oman for restaurants, fat sheep and goats for the Eid feast, new cars reassembled after being cut into four, huge motorbikes straight out of Easy Rider, bustling markets full of foods, clothes, fridges, washing machines, pharmaceuticals, some brought in to order, and much more. Some people are getting very rich on both sides of the Rafah border.
But the tunnels are a small slice of the reality. “We have run out of words to describe how bad it is here,” says John Ging, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. Ging heads a team of 10,000 mainly Palestinian workers who run the aid supplies that are all that stand between the vast majority of Gazans and destitution. “We have 80% unemployment, an economy at subsistence level, infrastructure destroyed, etc, but even worse than the humanitarian plight is the destruction of civil society.”
Ging’s great preoccupation is “the 750,000 children susceptible to an environment where things are moving rapidly in the wrong direction, where the injustice is bewildering, and every day worse”.
There is a big problem of insecurity and violence here, and it is getting worse. Most adults display stoic resilience, and cling to a belief in traditional values, but there is a compelling narrative by extremists which becomes ever more difficult to combat. Only lifting the siege would change the dynamic.
An international community that has accepted the “normalcy” of the degrading tunnel economy for Gaza, shames us all. Ending the water emergency should be the first step to breaking the blockade.
By Gideon Levy – December 9, 2009
A few days before the prime minister promised to suspend construction in the territories, the orders had already been issued: Buildings, tin shacks and tents in the tiny Bedouin hamlet of Hirbet Um al-Hir, adjacent to the settlement of Carmel in the south Hebron hills, were to be demolished.
This week, representatives from the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem visited the site. A kitten lay on the rocky, arid ground, slowly dying. No one in the place gave a thought to rescuing it. Helpless, the kitten cast a desperate gaze at its surroundings. Not even the lean Shepherd dogs approached it. In another hour, maybe another day, the kitten will breathe its last anguished breath. The residents of the tiny village are helpless, too. With their last remaining strength they are clinging to the fence of the settlement of Carmel, part of which lies on their private land; clinging to the soil their father and grandfather bought after the family was forced to flee from the Negev in 1948; clinging in their tents and their tin huts and with their animals to the remainder of their land, from which Israel has for some time been threatening to evict them.
Who was here first? To whom has this private land belonged for many decades? Who was already expelled once by Israel? Whose structures are demolished if they are built without a permit? And who do you suppose can even get a permit? Questions that are as pointless as they are irrelevant here, in this obscure community in the south Hebron hills. On Monday of this week the diplomats from the U.S. consulate were struck by the injustice. They promised to help. Who knows? Maybe salvation for the residents of the hirbeh – the word means ruin – will come from them.
Alongside the yellow homes of the “southern neighborhood” the settlers have laid the foundations for another group of homes. These of course will not be included in the “freeze,” because they are “building starts.” Parked next to them are an army Jeep and a settlers’ security Jeep. According to Id Hadalin, a fine-looking young Bedouin of 24 who speaks fluent, up-to-date Hebrew and also English (which he says he learned “from life”), the residents of the new neighborhood are worse than their predecessors.
“Because they are young. Because they sabotage our property and steal our animals.” Id tells of shepherds being attacked and sheep stolen, of people being struck and harassed. Complaints submitted to the Hebron police usually result in a visit by a team of police, but no one is brought to trial. And now have come the freeze orders, which Id calls “a big, big problem.”
The bleached-out land is covered with cracks. Last week there were flash floods here and farming equipment donated by the International Red Cross to till the soil and plant wheat and olives in the wadi was destroyed. The seeds were washed away. One blow after another.
Id was born here. “My head fell forward from this tent. That is what my parents told me. Most of us were born naturally, without a hospital.” Eighty-four souls live in this compound and another 70 in the expansion of the hirbeh a few hundred meters to the north. All of them are from the same family, the same tribe, the Jahalin, which lived in the Negev and was scattered to the four winds in 1948. Id’s grandfather arrived here at the beginning of the 1950s with his family and bought this land, on the remnants of which we now sit, from people in the town of Yatta.
Id’s father, Suleiman, who also speaks a good contemporary Hebrew, is far more distraught than his son. “Three times you did us bad,” he says. “The first time, in 1948. Everything went. No refugee camps were established for the Bedouin, and every tribe went its own way. We started to wander in the hills, until we got here. The Bedouin wander with their camels and everyone chases them away. Get out, get out. Even the people of Yatta are bad. They will kill for a meter of land. My father bought the whole hill from them, and now Carmel is perched on it. The second time: the Six-Day War. We all became refugees. Both in the West Bank and in Gaza, and Musa, too [Musa Abu Hashhash, a fieldworker for the human rights organization B'Tselem, who accompanied us on the visit.] At first the Israeli army was good to us and didn’t do anything to us. We stayed here and enjoyed life.
“Then, in November 1980, the first Jewish National Fund tractor entered along with a high army officer, who said: We have to cut a road to Be’er Sheva here. Everyone will benefit from the road, he said. Then they put an army base on the hill and the base stood there for five months and the first bachelor came. Actually, it was one couple and two bachelors. They started to settle and we did not say a word. The big military governor came to my father and told us: This is a military area. My father went to the mayor of Hebron, Samir Shamsh, of blessed memory, and brought the deeds that proved that this land belongs to us.
“We are stupid Bedouin. We thought the settlers would not harm us. They did groundwork here, groundwork there, Carmel grew and expanded onto our land and we said nothing. In 1992 it snowed and we saw our situation, we were totally finished, and then we started to build with cinderblocks. The settlers called in the Civil Administration and they wanted to demolish our cinderblock structures. We were served demolition orders. I went to the Civil Administration in Beit El and there they told me: Aren’t you ashamed? They are sitting on my land and building two-story homes and I will not build. That is what they said to me. I went to Faisal Husseini, of blessed memory, and he hired a lawyer for us who helped see to it that the two homes were not demolished. Afterward they demolished the two homes, one time and another time, and now they want to do it again.
“Three weeks ago, on November 11, a Civil Administration officer came with an inspector. He came to this tent where we are now sitting – this tent also exists in the pictures taken by your plane – and told us that the tent has to be demolished. This tent has been here since the 1960s. I have a transistor radio and I hear that there is a tsunami in Asia or an earthquake in Russia. From Allah. And what happens? All the countries help. And how do they help? They bring tents to rescue the people. You are a wise nation. I ask you: What kind of law tears down a tent? What kind of law issues a demolition order for a tent? What happened to this world? This world has turned completely upside down here. Tents are brought to the refugees from all the wars, and here they come to demolish the tent. To Benjamin Netanyahu I say: I am not afraid. I told the officer: If you take down the tent we will sleep on the earth and the sky will be our blanket. We will not leave. How many times does a person have to flee in his life? Carmel is on my land. They were not ashamed, and we were silent.
“They started with these orders in 1995. This is our third blow. I have more than 60 orders and it’s not finished yet. My father said: Even if this is my hill, the settlers will live here. I also am not against the army. But a civilian person like myself – will they throw me out? But the settlers are above the law. Their homes say that they are above the law. You see our distance from their fence, and now they want to throw us out completely. Is that what we deserve? A kick in the ass? But we will not budge from here. Only if there will be a massacre here like in Kafr Qasem or in Kibiya. If they take down our tent, we will put up a new one. We are Bedouin.
“We have no objection to Carmel. In the 1980s we were friends. They knew all our children. At that time they were good people. Now they want to move us. You are wiser than us. You know that everything is in the hands of the settlers. And who guards them? The army and the Civil Administration. They do the work for them. The whole nation of Israel works for the settlers.
“I heard that Netanyahu has stopped the construction now, but I don’t think they listen to Netanyahu. But only God will help us. How far will you push the Bedouin? To what abyss? To the Dead Sea? To the Red Sea?”
Twice in the past two years a few structures and tents have been demolished by the authorities. Several months ago the villagers tried to build 11 gray-brick toilets; only two remain that were not demolished, one in this compound and one in the compound opposite. They are left with one toilet for 86 people. Using old plastic boxes and tin cans, they build dovecotes, whose denizens flutter whenever a donkey snorts, a dog barks or a car passes in Carmel. Of the friendships with the settlers there remains only one righteous man in Sodom, Ron Tsurel by name, who has come to their aid. His home abuts the fence that separates the Bedouin from Carmel and they have only good things to say about him. They remember him from when he was still a bachelor. They are not even on speaking terms with all the other uninvited neighbors.
Now they know what will happen: after the stop-work orders will come the second order and then the third and then the demolition. “We are already used to it,” they say, laconically yet sadly.
A response by the Civil Administration was not available at the time of going to press.
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel banned a delegation of European members of parliament from entering the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing on Wednesday, despite previously approving the visit, the EU said.
“Israel had yesterday afternoon granted final permission for all members of our delegation to travel,” the European Parliament group said in a statement.
“However, some three hours later entry for all members of the delegation was rescinded ’on security grounds,’ without further explanation,”
“We insist on a full explanation of the security risks claimed by Israel,” the statement continued. “We received the news of the cancellation with bewilderment and dismay.”
“It is extremely curious that the cancellation came within a few hours of the announcement of the EU Council statement re-affirming Europe’s strong position in favor of an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and an end to settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” the statement added.
They were referring to a statement issued on Tuesday by the EU’s foreign ministers calling for Jerusalem to become the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.
The European delegation said it planned to check on humanitarian conditions in Gaza, meet with UNRWA operations director John Ging, and hold talks with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
They said they intended to urge PLC members to reconcile with their colleagues in the rival Palestinian administration in Ramallah.
Palestinian sources confirmed that the delegation was scheduled to cross into Gaza at 8am on Wednesday for meetings with UNRWA and PLC officials.
A spokesman for Israel’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
The delegation included Prosinsias De Rossa of Ireland, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides of Cyprus, Potit Salatto of Italy, Rosario Crocetta of Italy, Alexandra Thein of Germany, Nicole Kiil Neilsen of France, Robert Atkins of Britain, and Georgios Toussas of Greece.
Palestinian lawmaker Jamal Al-Khudari, who heads the Popular Committee Against the Israeli Siege of Gaza, said that prohibiting the entry of the delegation was the latest in a string of incidents where top European government officials were banned from Gaza.
Last week Irish Foreign Minister Michel Martin said he had been denied a request to enter Gaza.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto’lu and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner were also barred from Gaza recently.
The European delegation also said that the denial of access into Gaza was minor compared to Israeli violations of Palestinians’ rights: “The inconvenience caused to our delegation is minor compared to the constant tension and harassment to which Palestinians live with in the occupied territories including house demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem, and the appalling conditions under which the people are living in Gaza as reported to us by ECHO, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid office.”
They added that the ban “does not improve the relationship between this Israeli government and the European Parliament.”
“By denying elected members of the European Parliament the opportunity to meet our democratically-elected counterparts of the PLC is an unacceptable interference in the democratic process, and is contrary to international law,” the statement added.
Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 9 December 2009
|As EU diplomats waste time arguing over words, Israeli occupation forces continue to demolish Palestinian homes. (Meged Gozani/Activestills)|
Israel started a preemptive campaign against a EU statement on the Middle East session even before it was formally presented for discussion by EU ministers this week on whether to adopt it. Israeli spokesmen expressed outrage at what they saw as an EU effort to “divide” Jerusalem, and claimed that the European position would “harm the peace process,” as if it is only Israel that has been carefully protecting it from the harmful moves of others.
Despite the usual hype, the document, a version of which was published by the Israeli daily Haaretz on 2 December, does not contain much that should cause Israel any undue worry. It is no more than a fine tuning of long-stated, and ineffectual EU positions. The statement is of course “balanced” — meaning it goes out of its way not to offend the Israeli occupier and lawbreaker — and it is strewn with cliches and contradictions.
“The European Union calls for the urgent resumption of negotiations that will lead, within an agreed time frame, to a two-state solution, with an independent democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine, comprising the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel,” the statement reads.
This sounds straightforward enough, but that’s only the case if there are agreed upon definitions for the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem,” but this is not the case. Does the EU mean the West Bank and East Jerusalem as they existed the day before they were conquered and occupied by Israel on 4 June 1967? Reading through the rest of the statement does indeed indicate the opposite.
If the EU were really committed to an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, then all the Israeli settlements built illegally on occupied Palestinian land must go, as was the case in Sinai and Gaza. But that is not what the EU stipulates at all.
In more than one location the document says one thing for the Palestinians, but then effectively negates it by deferring to Israeli demands. For example, it commits to “Palestinian statehood” but with recognition deferred until “the appropriate time.” Hence there is no real commitment here, just a vague, easily deferred promise that costs nothing.
On settlements, the document quite rightly “urges the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem and including natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001.” “Outposts” is a term Israel uses for small settlements erected in violation of Israeli regulations, as if settlements Israel has authorized are somehow legal. So by asking only for the dismantling of “outposts,” the EU is in effect recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank by deferring to Israel’s definition of what is and is not a “legal” settlement. This EU recognition is a major diplomatic victory for Israel. All the settlements are equally illegal under international law, and Israel is equally obligated to remove all of them.
The EU document does recognize that “settlements, the [West Bank] separation barrier, on occupied land are illegal under international law,” but does not call for their complete removal.
The EU, the statement says, “will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders” — that sounds like a commitment to applying international law, until it adds, “other than those agreed by the parties.” But it is utterly meaningless to talk about “agreement” between a military occupier colonizing land by force and its victims. This is just another way of saying that Palestinians will be forced to acquiesce to an Israeli-imposed, EU-blessed fait accompli where they give up their claim to their stolen land, and possibly receive some sand dunes elsewhere in compensation.
It seems that democratic Europe is ready to forgive Israel’s systematic theft of Palestinian lands for more than 42 years (counting only from the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip), just as long as there is an illusory “land swap” to legitimize and cover up this theft. But did any of these Europeans bother to ask what land could compensate Palestinians for the hills of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarm and Jenin? Is there any place on earth that could “compensate” Europeans for London, Paris, Berlin and Stockholm?
In any case, any lands that Israel might “give” to the Palestinians were most likely lands Israel seized illegally from Palestine in 1948. So it is as if a robber offers to “compensate” you for something he stole, using something else he stole from you! Does the EU ever bother to question the legality, if not the morality, of donating other people’s rights and lands to merely appease a rogue state like Israel?
And why should the EU Council promise to “further develop its bilateral relations with Israel within the framework of the [European Neighborhood Policy]” if the latter is blocking Middle East peace, laying siege to Gaza, demolishing civilian homes in Jerusalem after throwing their inhabitants out in the open and building an apartheid wall on occupied land, as clearly spelled out in the European document? Why should Israel be expected to pay any attention to the European position if so much groveling and appeasement follow every mild criticism?
Let us not forget that this follows after many European countries lacked the moral courage to support the Goldstone report and help Palestinians pursue real justice for Israel’s atrocities in Gaza last winter.
So why should Israel heed any statement of EU policy when the Europeans make it clear that Israel will receive its rewards regardless of what it does, and never be punished regardless of its repeated violations of international law? For decades, such European duplicity, vagueness and weakness has encouraged Israel’s crimes and violations. The EU tried to wash its hands of its legal and moral obligations of the Palestinians by showering the Palestinian Authority with cash — which has done nothing to bring Palestinians any closer to liberation. It only financed the continued occupation, freeing Israeli hands and cash to build more illegal settlements.
Israel probably knows that it has little to fear from the EU, but it made a huge fuss because from experience, such behavior will intimidate the EU into watering the statement down even further before it is adopted in the futile search for “balance” and appeasement.
The EU statement is empty and meaningless. At this stage only real action, in the form of firm diplomatic, trade and economic sanctions against Israel could be taken as evidence of a real European commitment to peace. The EU must also crack down on all European firms — such as French conglomerate Veolia which is building a light railway linking Israeli settlements — that war profiteer from Israel’s occupation.
But that’s not likely, unfortunately. As EU diplomats waste time arguing over words, Israeli occupation forces will continue to demolish Palestinian homes, ethnically cleanse Jerusalem and colonize more Arab lands.
Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan at the United Nations. This essay first appeared in The Jordan Times.
Andrew Bolt – December 09, 2009 at 06:54pm
Q: How damaging to your argument was the disclosure of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University?
A: To paraphrase Shakespeare, it’s sound and fury signifying nothing. I haven’t read all the e-mails, but the most recent one is more than 10 years old. These private exchanges between these scientists do not in any way cause any question about the scientific consensus.
And in case you think that was a mere slip of the tongue:
Q: There is a sense in these e-mails, though, that data was hidden and hoarded, which is the opposite of the case you make [in your book] about having an open and fair debate.
A: I think it’s been taken wildly out of context. The discussion you’re referring to was about two papers that two of these scientists felt shouldn’t be accepted as part of the IPCC report. Both of them, in fact, were included, referenced, and discussed. So an e-mail exchange more than 10 years ago including somebody’s opinion that a particular study isn’t any good is one thing, but the fact that the study ended up being included and discussed anyway is a more powerful comment on what the result of the scientific process really is.
In fact, thrice denied:
These people are examining what they can or should do to deal with the P.R. dimensions of this, but where the scientific consensus is concerned, it’s completely unchanged. What we’re seeing is a set of changes worldwide that just make this discussion over 10-year-old e-mails kind of silly.
In fact, as Watts Up With That shows, one Climategate email was from just two months ago. The most recent was sent on November 12 – just a month ago. The emails which have Tom Wigley seeming (to me) to choke on the deceit are all from this year. Phil Jones’ infamous email urging other Climategate scientists to delete emails is from last year.
How closely did Gore read these emails? Did he actually read any at all? Was he lying or just terribly mistaken? What else has he got wrong?
By Ashraf Javed | December 09, 2009 | The Nation
LAHORE – Security agencies arrested four suspected members of notorious Blackwater agency while they were trying to force their entry into the Cantonment Area here on Tuesday evening, sources informed. However, they were released two hours later on the intervention of the US Consulate.
According to well-placed sources, the officials of security agencies intercepted three vehicles with tinted glasses near Sherpao Bridge, as security was on high alert, a day after twin bomb blasts hit Moon Market, Lahore’s leading shopping mall, leaving more than 54 people dead and 150 others wounded.
The arrested suspects, believed to be Cobra operatives, failed to produce authentic identification or their purpose for entering into the most sensitive area during cross-questioning with the security agency officials. The sources revealed that the suspects were apparently foreigners and they had no proper travel documents. However, the suspects refused to go with the security agencies for further interrogation and started arguing with security agency personnel, creating a terrible traffic mess at the leading artery of the City. Hundreds of motorists remained trapped in the traffic mess for about two hours.
The news of arrest of members of notorious and private spy agency, Blackwater, spread in the City like fire as people stared calling one another to share the development.
Meanwhile, on the intervention of the US Consulate, law enforcement agencies released the vehicles after Consulate personnel arrived and produced documents.
It is important to mention here that whenever the security agencies nab such private spies, they are released on the intervention of the US Embassy or Consulate.
When contacted, a spokesperson for US Consulate, Jami Dragon, admitted that the vehicles were
impounded for some hours belonged to the US Consulate Lahore.
He said that three diplomatic vehicles of the Consulate were stopped at a check-post for routine checks in Cantonment area, which later were released when the some US Consulate staff members reached the spot and produced documents and identification.
Ironically, Jami Dragon very naively said that he did not know about the law and regulations regarding prohibition on the use of tinted glass in Pakistan.
The spokesman did not know whether the vehicles were taken to any other place. However he said, the check took a couple of hours, for which he said, he did not know the reason.
08/12/2009 – 23:27:24
Iraq’s Interior Ministry has bought from the US modern Israeli-made equipment worth $ 49million for observing part of borders with Syria and Iran.
According to the US army’s statement issued yesterday, the equipment includes towers with cameras and system for transmitting information.
In this context, the Israeli Yedioth Ahranoth reported the transaction between Iraq and the US provides for buying equipment made in Israel.
It added that the equipment are of high quality in technical field as Israel planted several equipmet on the Lebanese borders and Gaza borders.
“The US-Iraqi transaction is part of the US-Israeli military cooperation which is of benefit to Israel as its weapons are exported abroad”, the paper added.
Under the US-Israeli military cooperation, the US has to help Israel promote its products in the countries with which Israel has no relations, especially the Arab countries.
Yedioth Ahranoth alleged that Kuwaiti, Bahraini and Omani armies are using Israeli “Gore” guns on which US flag is printed.
The US army claims that Iran backs gunmen who are attacking its forces, while the Iraqi government accuses Syria of providing shelter for leaders behinds Baghdad- bombs.
Damascus has asked the US to provide it with sophisticated systems to control borders with Iraq, but Washington rejected the demand because it fears that the systems would reach the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance.
الكاتب: Basma Qaddour
مصدر الخبر: source
By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
December 8, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO — The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.
Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose “the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict,” Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Other sanctions are available for government lawyers who commit misconduct, the department said. It noted that its Office of Professional Responsibility has been investigating Yoo’s advice to former President George W. Bush since 2004 and has the power to recommend professional discipline or even criminal prosecution.
The office has not made its conclusions public. However, The Chronicle and other media reported in May that the office will recommend that Yoo be referred to the bar association for possible discipline, but that he not be prosecuted.
Yoo, a UC Berkeley law professor, worked for the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003. He was the author of a 2002 memo that said rough treatment of captives amounts to torture only if it causes the same level of pain as “organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.” The memo also said the president may have the power to authorize torture of enemy combatants.
In the current lawsuit, Jose Padilla, now serving a 17-year sentence for conspiring to aid Islamic extremist groups, accuses Yoo of devising legal theories that justified what he claims was his illegal detention and abusive interrogation.
The Justice Department represented Yoo until June, when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the suit could proceed. The department then bowed out, citing unspecified conflicts, and was replaced by a government-paid private lawyer.
Yoo’s new attorney, Miguel Estrada, argued for dismissal in a filing last month, saying the case interfered with presidential war-making authority and threatened to “open the floodgates to politically motivated lawsuits” against government officials. The Justice Department’s filing Thursday endorsed the request for dismissal but offered narrower arguments, noting its continuing investigation of Yoo.
Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in Chicago in 2002 and accused of plotting with al Qaeda to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb.” He was held for three years and eight months in a Navy brig, where, according to his suit, he was subjected to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and stress positions, kept for lengthy periods in darkness and blinding light, and threatened with death to himself and his family.
He was then removed from the brig, charged with and convicted of taking part in an unrelated conspiracy to provide money and supplies to extremist groups.
Padilla’s suit says Yoo approved his detention in the brig and provided the legal cover for his allegedly abusive treatment. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White refused to dismiss the case in June.
The Justice Department’s filing Thursday said Padilla is asking the courts to determine the legality of Yoo’s advice, Bush’s decision to detain Padilla, the conditions of his confinement and the methods of his interrogation – all “matters of war and national security” that are beyond judicial authority.
E-mail Bob Egelko at email@example.com.
By Prof. Robert M. Carter
Global Research, December 9, 2009
James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
Ten facts about climate change
1. Climate has always changed, and it always will. The assumption that prior to the industrial revolution the Earth had a “stable” climate is simply wrong. The only sensible thing to do about climate change is to prepare for it.
2. Accurate temperature measurements made from weather balloons and satellites since the late 1950s show no atmospheric warming since 1958. In contrast, averaged ground-based thermometers record a warming of about 0.40 C over the same time period. Many scientists believe that the thermometer record is biased by the Urban Heat Island effect and other artefacts.
3. Despite the expenditure of more than US$50 billion dollars looking for it since 1990, no unambiguous anthropogenic (human) signal has been identified in the global temperature pattern.
4. Without the greenhouse effect, the average surface temperature on Earth would be -180 C rather than the equable +150 C that has nurtured the development of life.
Carbon dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas, responsible for ~26% (80 C) of the total greenhouse effect (330C), of which in turn at most 25% (~20C) can be attributed to carbon dioxide contributed by human activity. Water vapour, contributing at least 70% of the effect, is by far the most important atmospheric greenhouse gas.
5. On both annual (1 year) and geological (up to 100,000 year) time scales, changes in atmospheric temperature PRECEDE changes in CO2. Carbon dioxide therefore cannot be the primary forcing agent for temperature increase (though increasing CO2 does cause a diminishingly mild positive temperature feedback).
6. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has acted as the main scaremonger for the global warming lobby that led to the Kyoto Protocol. Fatally, the IPCC is a political, not scientific, body.
Hendrik Tennekes, a retired Director of Research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, says that “the IPCC review process is fatally flawed” and that “the IPCC wilfully ignores the paradigm shift created by the foremost meteorologist of the twentieth century, Edward Lorenz“.
7. The Kyoto Protocol will cost many trillions of dollars and exercises a significant impost those countries that signed it, but will deliver no significant cooling (less than .020 C by 2050, assuming that all commitments are met).
The Russian Academy of Sciences says that Kyoto has no scientific basis; Andre Illarianov, senior advisor to Russian president Putin, calls Kyoto-ism “one of the most agressive, intrusive, destructive ideologies since the collapse of communism and fascism“. If Kyoto was a “first step” then it was in the same wrong direction as the later “Bali roadmap”.
8. Climate change is a non-linear (chaotic) process, some parts of which are only dimly or not at all understood. No deterministic computer model will ever be able to make an accurate prediction of climate 100 years into the future.
9. Not surprisingly, therefore, experts in computer modelling agree also that no current (or likely near-future) climate model is able to make accurate predictions of regional climate change.
10. The biggest untruth about human global warming is the assertion that nearly all scientists agree that it is occurring, and at a dangerous rate.
The reality is that almost every aspect of climate science is the subject of vigorous debate. Further, thousands of qualified scientists worldwide have signed declarations which (i) query the evidence for hypothetical human-caused warming and (ii) support a rational scientific (not emotional) approach to its study within the context of known natural climate change.
LAYING TEN GLOBAL WARMING MYTHS
Myth 1 Average global temperature (AGT) has increased over the last few years.
Fact 1 Within error bounds, AGT has not increased since 1995 and has declined since 2002, despite an increase in atmospheric CO2 of 8% since 1995.
Myth 2 During the late 20th Century, AGT increased at a dangerously fast rate and reached an unprecedented magnitude.
Facts 2 The late 20th Century AGT rise was at a rate of 1-20 C/century, which lies well within natural rates of climate change for the last 10,000 yr. AGT has been several degrees warmer than today many times in the recent geological past.
Myth 3 AGT was relatively unchanging in pre-industrial times, has sky-rocketed since 1900, and will increase by several degrees more over the next 100 years (the Mann, Bradley & Hughes “hockey stick” curve and its computer extrapolation).
Facts 3 The Mann et al. curve has been exposed as a statistical contrivance. There is no convincing evidence that past climate was unchanging, nor that 20th century changes in AGT were unusual, nor that dangerous human warming is underway.
Myth 4 Computer models predict that AGT will increase by up to 60 C over the next 100 years.
Facts 4 Deterministic computer models do. Other equally valid (empirical) computer models predict cooling.
Myth 5 Warming of more than 20 C will have catastrophic effects on ecosystems and mankind alike.
Facts 5 A 20 C change would be well within previous natural bounds. Ecosystems have been adapting to such changes since time immemorial. The result is the process that we call evolution. Mankind can and does adapt to all climate extremes.
Myth 6 Further human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere will cause dangerous warming, and is generally harmful.
Facts 6 No human-caused warming can yet be detected that is distinct from natural system variation and noise. Any additional human-caused warming which occurs will probably amount to less than 10 C. Atmospheric CO2 is a beneficial fertilizer for plants, including especially cereal crops, and also aids efficient evapo-transpiration.
Myth 7 Changes in solar activity cannot explain recent changes in AGT.
Facts 7 The sun’s output varies in several ways on many time scales (including the 11-, 22 and 80-year solar cycles), with concomitant effects on Earth’s climate. While changes in visible radiation are small, changes in particle flux and magnetic field are known to exercise a strong climatic effect. More than 50% of the 0.80 C rise in AGT observed during the 20th century can be attributed to solar change.
Myth 8 Unprecedented melting of ice is taking place in both the north and south polar regions.
Facts 8 Both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are growing in thickness and cooling at their summit. Sea ice around Antarctica attained a record area in 2007. Temperatures in the Arctic region are just now achieving the levels of natural warmth experienced during the early 1940s, and the region was warmer still (sea-ice free) during earlier times.
Myth 9 Human-caused global warming is causing dangerous global sea-level (SL) rise.
Facts 9 SL change differs from time to time and place to place; between 1955 and 1996, for example, SL at Tuvalu fell by 105 mm (2.5 mm/yr). Global average SL is a statistical measure of no value for environmental planning purposes. A global average SL rise of 1-2 mm/yr occurred naturally over the last 150 years, and shows no sign of human-influenced increase.
Myth 10 The late 20th Century increase in AGT caused an increase in the number of severe storms (cyclones), or in storm intensity.
Facts 10 Meteorological experts are agreed that no increase in storms has occurred beyond that associated with natural variation of the climate system.
Robert M. Carter is a Research Professor at James Cook University (Queensland) and the University of Adelaide (South Australia). He is a palaeontologist, stratigrapher, marine geologist and environmental scientist with more than thirty years professional experience.
Global Research Articles by Robert M. Carter
By Wayne Madsen
Dec 9, 2009, 00:18
(WMR) — Noted Belgian expert on the history and politics of central Africa’s Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dr. Filip Reyntjens of the Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB) in Antwerp, spoke at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University in Washington on December 3 and leveled a broadside on the policies of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame in his nation’s looting of the DRC’s natural resources.
Reyntjens said that in 1997 and 1998, Kagame, a Rwandan Tutsi who grew up in Uganda, decided that the only way to deal with Hutus exiled to Zaire from Rwanda was to “exterminate them.”
Kagame is now lauded around the world by uninformed “human rights” groups and governments for the “suffering” he and his comrades endured after the mass killings of Rwandan Tutsis in the aftermath of the aerial assassinations of the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi by Kagame’s forces on April 6, 1994.
Eventually, Kagame became such a regional military threat by 2001 that his old ally, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, asked British overseas development minister Clare Short for permission to spend development aid from Britain on defense in order to protect against what Museveni believed was a Rwandan military threat. Rwandan troops began to appear in force in DRC’s Ituri province, which has a border with Uganda but not Rwanda. Rwanda also began supporting a rebel militia in Ituri, composed largely of Hema tribal members, that was originally allied with Uganda but turned against it with aid from Rwanda. Reyntjens believes that such “shifting alliances” are rampant in the DRC and are making it difficult for the central government to reassert its authority over the vast nation.
Essentially, Rwandan and Ugandan forces were competing against one another over the lion’s share of DRC’s rich natural resources, which were and continue to be looted by both countries from the DRC. In fact, Reyntjens pointed out that the expensive villas and office blocks now being constructed in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, are being paid with the profits from the looted natural resources from the DRC.
Reyntjens, like any journalist or academic who criticized Kagame and his dictatorship, stands accused by Kagame’s supporters of having a relationship with the former Rwandan government of assassinated President Juvenal Habyarimana. Reyntjens points out that such was not always the case with Kagame and his government, “I was a hero until I started criticizing Kagame.” Reyntjens says the Rwandan government engages in character assassination when dealing with its critics.
Rwanda is also involved in the illegal exploitation of resources in the DRC, according to Reyntjens. While admitting that Zimbabwe was also exploiting the DRC for its resources, the major difference, according to Reyntjens, is that Zimbabwe was dealing directly with the DRC central government — a sovereign power — while Rwanda was not.
Reyntjens cited a recent UN report that stated that in the DRC illegal aircraft movements are the rule rather than the exception. He also said Rwanda used prisoners from Rwandan jails to mine diamonds in the DRC, a clear violation of international law. Reyntjens called what is happening in the DRC the “Luxembourg Effect,” comparing the situation to what the German people would think if tiny Luxembourg wielded control over a large portion of German land and resources.
One of the biggest problems for the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) is the presence of Rwandan-backed Congolese Tutsis in the FARDC command structure in eastern Congo. Reyntjens says the situation on the ground in eastern Congo is that Congolese Tutsis integrated into the FARDC are fighting Rwandan Hutu rebels within the DRC’s borders. Reyntjens does not believe the Rwandan armed forces should be allowed to operate in the DRC in any respect. He believes what the DRC needs is a real army and a real state.
However, since Kagame and his government constantly and astutely use the “Genocide Credit” with international donors, the aggression and interference of Rwanda in the internal affairs of DRC is never discussed. Moreover, Reyntjens said there are now “dozens of American” researchers now operating inside Rwanda and that this is a new development.
Summing up the problems for all of Africa, Reyntjens said that while the DRC must re-establish central control over its territory, including preventing Rwanda from unrestricted border crossings between it and the DRC, many Congolese, like most Africans, are suspicious of central state governments. Most Africans associate “the state” with police, rackets, and prisons, said Reyntjens. Ironically, the United States, through its military incursion into Africa with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), is trying to extend the control of state military structures over the nations of Africa, except, of course, where U.S. and certain foreign economic interests do not find such state control advantageous, as in DRC and Sudan.
Reyntjens is hopeful that a federal DRC will be able to reassert Congolese authority over its territory and cited the 25 new provinces of the DRC where revenues from each province will be distributed as follows: 50 percent to the central government in Kinshasa, 40 percent to the provincial governments, and 10 percent to an equalization fund that will be used to balance the financial disparities between rich and poor provinces.
Reyntjens has written a new book, “The Great African War: Congo and Regional Geopolitics, 1996-2006,” from Cambridge University Press. This editor’s book, “Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999,” is referenced therein.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).
State Dept. Briefing: Preparing for Action in Africa
July 3, 2009
African Contingency Operations Training Assistance
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, said President Barack Obama’s administration will provide more military observers, police, and staff to enhance global ‘peacekeeping’ operations, especially in African nations in response to appeals for support in assembling better equipped and rapidly deployable forces… continue
Why are the oligarchic elites trying so hard to push their climate change policies through right now?
December 9, 2009 by Notsilvia Night
Why are the political and financial elites and their obedient servants in the their faith-, sorry scientific community pushing so madly for a final decision on a global Carbon Tax legislation at this very moment?
Why don´t they just wait until the scandal of “climate gate” has blown over?
Because those elites know they are wrong on the issue of human caused climate change.
They know that the data doesn´t support their fear-mongering, because they themselves have fudged it to support a political agenda.
They know that their lies are being revealed to the public piece by piece, faster and faster.
Most of all, they know that the planet is at the moment once again in a cooling phase as occurs every thirty or forty odd years.
Looking at the current lack of solar activity, this cooling phase might even be a more severe one than the one that ended 40 years ago, possibly as severe as during what is called the Maunder Minimum, a cooling phase lasting several decades during the 17. and 18. century.
In a couple of years their claims would no longer be tenable at all. The cooling trend would be obvious to even the most ideologically blinded environmentalist on earth.
The scheme of taxing global population, creating new revenue streams for the world´s financial markets establishing a central control over the world economy and preventing the rise of developing countries out of poverty, would lose out.
The political leaders of all less powerful countries are being bullied at the moment into signing a treaty which gives away their country’s national sovereignty to the leadership of the powerful ones, namely Britain and United States – and more to the point to the shadow leadership behind them, the world´s financial elites of Goldman Sachs and Co.
So why are so many decent people on the left fighting hand and foot for the profits in carbon trading of Goldman Sachs and Al Gore´s Generation Investment Management (GIM) company?
It´s a psychological problem; most people, especially on the left, want to be on the side of the good and caring people.
For over 40 years now we have been told that being environmentally minded means being a good person.
It means we care about nature, wild animal life, about future generations of human beings.
Being environmentally minded means we are opposed to polluting the air and the water;
we are opposed to deforestation (especially in the rain-forest regions);
we are opposed to dumping our own poisonous waste unto the developing world;
we are opposed to rampant consumerism, in which driven by the advertisement industry we keep on buying and buying. Buying things we actually don´t need, things which do not make us either happier or more comfortable, just more indebted.
All those nice middle class people who want to feel good about themselves, they all support these ideas as part of the program for the left. And yes, there are plenty of real environmental issues we should be concerned about. But while marginalizing these real issues for the environment, the financial and right-wing ideological elites have – with the help of the media they control – succeeded to infiltrate their own agenda into the “green” movement with the bogus Anthropogenic Global Warming ideology.
The propaganda has been very successful indeed. People who want with all their heart to be “good” and decent are now supporting the agenda of the most selfish and anti-humanist forces on the planet.
The propaganda has created a belief-system which is hard to break. In Europe this belief-system is even more entrenched, since it has been developed for a over a few more years, hence it may be harder to break among Europeans than in the United States.
But after the “climate-gate” revelations chances aren’t so bad any more. A global storm is brewing against the liars (which include most of the mainline media) and their masters. No matter how bad it looks when we listen to the sound-bites of the top-level political hacks, down on the bottom, in the population, minds are changing en masse.
In just a little while, those who honestly strive to be the “good” guys (and girls) will realize that being good and caring about future generations means not caring for the Goldman Sachs carbon credits scheme.
The truth will indeed set us free from global tyranny:
The U.S. peace “movement,” much of which “comes and goes” as often as Boy George’s “Karma Chameleon,” has finally discovered that its presumed perch in Barack Obama’s tree was untenable, if not wholly imaginary. To be sure, “Progressives for Obama” and other assorted delusional groupings were always squatters in the Obama camp – but they were the only ones who didn’t know it. How embarrassing it would have been, back during the campaign, had the lost little lefties realized that Obama’s imperial soul mates were laughing at them from a disdainful distance, knowing full well the path their bought-and-paid-for president would soon be traveling. How would the Obama peacenik groupies have preserved their sense of self-worth – much less their arrogant smugness – had they realized the absolute contempt in which they were held by their hero’s funders and packagers – and no doubt by the Object of Adulation, himself?With the president’s hearty embrace on December 1 of not only current U.S. aggressions in South Asia but the entirety of the glorious rise of U.S. global hegemony since the end of World War Two, it should now be clear to even the most dense among self-styled “progressives” that Obama was never worth a damn. To Obama, the world-terrorizing nuclear arms race against the Soviets, the savage assaults on countries emerging from colonialism, the death of millions in the quest to make the world safe for corporations, the spread of the global drug trade under management of U.S. intelligence services – all this can be summed up as: “The United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades, a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.”
Obama lives and breathes American Manifest Destiny – which means, as a non-white person, he is profoundly mentally unbalanced. But any lefty worth her/his salt should have known that. Obama’s yearly talks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the regional equivalent of the Council on Foreign Affairs, were models of imperial-speak, totally consistent with his West Point performance. Beginning years ago, he repeatedly declared that, as president, he would draw a line in the sands (or mountains) of Afghanistan – which is something only militarist, imperialist pigs draw in other people’s countries. He warned everyone that, under the Bin-Ladin-Might-Be-There Doctrine, he would refuse to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan. And he has ceaselessly lied about his actions and intentions in Iraq – a key qualification for the job of imperial U.S. president.
Still, there seems to be a soggy cloud hanging over some self-styled anti-war circles, as if Obama’s most recent display of rabid war mongering, American Manifest Destiny-ism was a tragedy for and betrayal of the “movement.” And I suppose that those confused souls who believed that they were doing “movement” work while engaged in Obama groupy-ism for the last several years, might feel that some kind of tragedy had occurred. And they might be right, in that the absence of an anti-war movement during the campaign years undoubtedly encouraged Obama in his warlike proclivities. As a result, hundreds of thousands will undoubtedly die, because American “progressives” forsook their duty to humanity for reasons no more defensible than those a teenage girl would give for following a shallow but “hot” celebrity around from city to city.
Let’s make it plain: Obama didn’t do anything to the “movement.” Most especially, he did not fool anyone in the “movement.” Rather, people who claimed to be in the “movement” fooled themselves and then proceeded to fool lots of other people into thinking that Obama-work was “movement”-work – when events have shown it was the opposite.
A huge number of “movement” notables should be deeply humbled and, to varying degrees, ashamed at their lemming-like susceptibility to Obama’s…what? The two-year near-silence in the anti-war “movement” is proof, not of Obama’s Svengali-like powers (his imperialism is actually quite transparent), but of profound weaknesses in the “movement,” itself (which is why I’ve been putting the term in quotes).
I have a hunch that the worst of the paralyzing Obama-effect on “movement” politics is finally over – due mainly to Obama’s insistence on remaining true to the logic of imperialism and refusal to toss his groupies on the Left a straw to cling to, any further. [I hope you're right Gary but what I've been seeing suggests we have a ways to go]
There is no need to name-the-names of the politically prodigal ones, many of whom are returning to some kind of oppositional activism [promoting Western supremacy and mass starvation of those that can't afford the "costs" of the contrived AGW agenda in Copenhagen perhaps] now that their erstwhile idol is in full-spectrum war mode. Far better to quote Cynthia McKinney, the former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, whose engagement with struggle is a constant:
“We have now reached the point where those who make and interpret current events think they can make us believe that war is for peace, ignorance is strength, slavery is freedom, and lies are the truth. Well, we know the truth, and we will not rest until every drone is stopped and no more bombs are dropped. We will not rest until peace is won. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said there comes a time when we do what we must because our ultimate measure is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where we stand at times of challenge and controversy. At this time of challenge, we are clear: we will not give up and we will not stop.”
There are many “movement” notables who, in fact, did try in the recent past to peddle a banker’s best friend as a man of the people, a proponent of “race-neutrality” as an ally of oppressed minorities, and an imperial invader and occupier as something resembling a man of peace. Hopefully, they will make up for past misconduct and bad judgment through prodigious feats of activist productivity, including plenty of shouting at the White House on Saturday.